A Finding Aid is a document that provides a description of the contents of an archival collection.
The finding aid includes a narrative overview of the collection, with a listing of materials by box, folder, or item. It is expected to assist the researcher in determining whether or not the collection meets his or her research needs. Finding aids vary widely with some stopping at the box level and others which may include a description of every item in every folder in every box.
To understand all the elements of a finding aid, click HERE to see an annotated finding aid from an archival collection at Purdue University.
Archival materials are unique and must preserved. As a result, researchers must follow protocol when requested materials. Here are some of the rules you might encounter at an archives.